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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  March 19, 2011 1:00pm-1:45pm EDT

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you can also visit for more upcoming 2011. honoring schools chancellor michele reed and her 3-year effort to reform the school system. this event is 40 minutes. ..
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and of course that's how i ended up asking michelle to cooperate in some way for the vote. that process took about two months. but she eventually began -- she gave me some access here, and that's obviously to write about. it was great for. everyone also asked me, what is my favorite show story. the practice leaves off with a michelle story about going to the tailor, so i won't go into that one. there's another one about that is buried on their that when the girls: the daughters were much younger, kevin and michelle went to the original pancake house for a special meal and sure enough there was a line they are this time. this is creating an echo? and so, they are standing in the
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problem is there was no open tables. so kevin tells his story. michelle checks it out and walks behind the desk and looks around a restaurant and finally she just walks behind the nature defense is that's okay, you, over here. and dispatch the whole thing. the funniest thing kevin said at the staff at the restaurant were grateful that somebody knew what they were doing. so that is my favorite michelle story. and i'm going to rock but because i know q&a is far more interesting than this mean to me. so the significance of the book is my guy didn't in starting the book was that michelle would be tapping core issues that we will see played out in states and school districts in the coming years. and i'd like to say something genius on my part is accidental. in fact that is happening.
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if you look at the teachers contract in a look at colorado, florida, new jersey, new york and all those places if you look at the reforms that are proposed are just starting, to see how they played out in the ground in washington d.c. of course, some politicians will see what happened here and say why would we do that? mayor lost their job and michelle lost her job. to those who would say that, if you've got a good point. so why would anyone do that? you know, a couple of reasons. there's a whole group of politicians in something where you can do the same kind of reforms, on the smile more and when you are doing them in your more collaborative. are they right? i think it depends on the school district. you know, a functioning school district public could do that. there is a lot of school
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districts with the same profile as d.c. united will think you can get away with it. there's another way of answering the question because they were called asking this of kevin johnson. i thought, here is a politician who is also immersed in education issues and also went door to door if you any. i asked kevin, speaking as the mayor, why would anybody reach out for michelle rhee consider what happened? seaside people like us are just so desperate to make a dent in some kind of improvement in the urban school district. so it is going to have incremental sturbridge not. he offered proof in this avalanche that came to michelle as she stepped down. so i think kevin is straight. these reforms are going to be tried again and not just michelle spurgeon. so not going to pass it to michelle linnaeus be by agreeing to talk with her relations with
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the press, probably heard the favorite topic. considering this is organized by each initial advisory association can she played along a circuit court. >> my relations with the press. i think my relationship with the press was complicated. let me say on the first side that a lot of very good things happened because of the press attention that week i, with the efforts we were putting forests. i was really surprised, to tell you the truth, when i started the job that there was so much interest in literary doing. at first i would often go out to dinner with richard and sean and talk about how strange it was. at first i thought it was because the visual was so start. here is his korean american
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woman who is young, who is never ran a school, much less a school district and now she is taken on this job and a mostly african-american city for such a stark visual, i thought that's what was driving the interest in the news. and i thought it would dissipate over time. and try us tonight, it did not happen. and it seems like the press interest in the intensity actually increased over time. and i remember having dinner one night with a journalist in the city and that was lamenting. we had a particularly challenging press day that day and i said i don't get it. i mean, if there is a fight in the cafeteria at some high school in new york city, i can guarantee you "the new york times" is not covering that. but what goes on in the "washington post" is covering every single thing that is
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happening. i don't get it. he let demand that i can tell you why there is so much interest. he said it's because you give good quote. he said, you say the things that we know people are probably thinking in their head, but they are trained to do better than stick to their talking points. and you actually say those things. you say there is an teachers who are not so good they need to be removed. and so, that's why the press loves you because you say those things. so i thought that was interesting. i will say this -- i don't often allowed to say it, but i'm going to say it. [laughter] as per usual. i think that there were people in the media who were extraordinarily helpful to us in this effort. and i honestly don't think we
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could have done the work that we did without some of the media actually backing us 100% of the way. and when things came to spiraled out of control with what people were thinking of what blogs were saying with the voice of reason. and i couldn't trace that i wouldn't trade that for anything because they were safe venue for which there was a constant and consistent voice saying mostly that it was right. that was extraordinarily helpful the offer. i also though will tell you that we made a ton of mistakes when it came to the media. it's funny because starting early on in my tenure, people would make comments to either me or my staff, saying you guys have the best pr machine other. i mean, getting on -- covered by all these major national news
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outlets. i mean, there is this mastermind behind it. all that they know it was 20 running around. we had no idea what we're doing. we didn't really have a pressure per se is somehow people thought it was the pr press machine. this lack thereof actually. and i think we naïvely thought we were going to put our head down, work hard and do the right things and produce results. and that is really what matters, just making sure that we are focused on the right thing and producing results. and i think we very much underestimated the power of the media would have in shaping the message. and so we ended up with a situation versus teacher -- they were getting messages and reading things in the newspapers on the floor.
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and they were getting that sort of message and the communications shaped in their head and this is our fault on this. we did not do our part to sort of send a different message proactively. and we thought those things people are sane or nice. nobody is going to believe that. in the absence of us putting anything different not stuck in their heads and became an air days. and that's where we really fell down in all of this. and interestingly enough, there's people from tnt hear that remember back in the day on before i was chancellor, we would say to the superintendents, it do not advocate the communication directly to teachers to the union. you have to be directly communicating with teachers and after we took over the school district, which is fell in the same draft and didn't do that. so i would say that my sort
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of -- i think our biggest challenge in my biggest lesson learned in all of this has to do with that communication, specifically to the teachers. not necessarily the rest of the public. but what really did not serve us well was the fact we were directly communicating with the teachers. so complicated stuff. like i said, both good and bad. i would absolutely say that because of the national attention that week i for the affaires, we got a lot of support. i don't think we ever would've gotten a $65 million in foundation support for the efforts of the entire national organizations unless they believe what we're doing here but have a national impact and that would not have happened were it not for the press and media that were involved in the effort.
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so i would say good, not so good on the not so good side. there is a lot we could have done better. >> up late to turn it over to questions. i was hoping to get michelle to answer one more thing on this issue. i thought we had such an inch in conversation about the whole time cover. that by the way back there is the of time covered. >> the one we were supposed to be using. >> as opposed to the one with the room. and i said what are you thinking? in hindsight, what would've made it different? what if anita dunn had been with you at the time. no, you may not do this and i don't know -- you had an interesting answer as to whether you had. price and things like that. >> well, i like to travel a little. i like to do my own thing. and you know, people would often wonder what show up someplace, to look around and say where are
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your staff? i would say they are at the office where they should be, not following me around. and the school district superintendent and not a movie star. i don't need folks following me around. i'm just doing my job. that's a picture they were going up until three days before it came out. i actually -- i mean, i don't regret that cover. i regret that people took it the wrong way. people took it to mean that i was not at all really saw the room as a symbol of needing a clean sweep. and literally, they are sweeping change, needing to clean house. and i don't think there's anybody that can argue with me about the fact that we actually
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absolutely have to have sweeping changes in what we are doing. we cannot skirt around the edges and spend another 10 years trying to get 10 more percentage gains for the children in washington d.c. it wasn't good enough for them. >> now, we would really like to take questions from all of you, either for richard r. michelle. >> michelle, i can't remember whether it was waiting for superman or something else where you were in a discussion with geoffrey canada. and he made the observation about the fact that many of the people that this change is meant to benefit are opposed to it and how disturbing that is.
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and i wonder if you could comment on that in terms of the most act to his parents and community members be not grasping the reason for the change. so i think very few distinctions that are important. often times people would portray the opposition to what we were doing as parents. parents don't like you. parents don't like these changes. and certainly the majority of the people who disagree our school closer plans for parents. but the people who sort of opposed every step we took were not a large group of parents. parents were actually seen the improvements that were being made every day. it was i'd say more for general community members who were unhappy with our approach. and i'd also say that richard
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touches a little bit on this in the book and i only sort of learned about this through his reporting actually, was he talks in the book about having done the pope and in jordan's neighborhood where the school list and asking people about questions of education. over the school is like in the vast majority of the people felt like also the majority of people following schools for now headed in the right direction and they could see improvement that was also accurate in the "washington post" poll that also record numbers of citizens in this city were feeling heart and positive about school reform. but when it richard asked the question -- was it necessary to
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fire the teachers in order to see the games and they said no. they knew the school had gotten a lot better and they didn't think the stuff had been taken were necessary to get you. and that was a huge baja moment for me because what they realize was weird not to make good job of connecting dots for people. it's not fun. it's not a pleasant situation to be in, but because we believed that the steps we were taking, whether his termination, school closure, et cetera were all linked to the products they were definitely seen on the backend, which was higher quality instruction and leadership in the schools. that was our fault. >> michelle points out that i did some polling may have seized the -- suzanne middle-school is a polling spot.
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so on that day, on primary day i met people coming up. and i went deliberately and keep in mind some of the business school and waiting for superman which was the worst in the world. and a lot was at stake in the mayoral election because it was cool to michelle with the god. although he is not assembled the scope, not come back on the prayer at all because it was very harsh attitudes towards the reforms. i thought, this is a school with the experience in this community had everything to lose, this would be it. and i was shocked interviewing. coming up here. they were -- it all comes back that there is huge resentment on the firings and almost 0 cents a month people i talked to that the firings that took place had
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anything to do with that school improving dramatically. i mean, nothing. no connection at all. and i thought that was pretty striking. >> can you talk about your process as a writer? there's a lot of competing narratives around her time as chancellor and how you chose to include those are balance those and make decisions about what was valid for inclusion in your boat. just sort of how you chose to balance out the competing narratives about what was happening and what you chose -- why you chose to include certain narratives. >> it's a great question. you know, in my book is only a week and had been trashed in a lot of places. i knew that it would.
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you know, you've only got one shot at doing this book. so the question is, how will you spend your 270 pages? do you always have opposing views and opposing voices in this kind of thing? or do you set out for nancy one big question? to me the question was, can an urban school district be turned around? was this the right strategy? was it working and should the school districts follow this strategy? and so, although there is a biography of mary binkley that is the fun part of the book is if things happen in her life that weren't relevant to answering that question, like i did somebody like this kind disposition, they got passed. and you know, i debated a long time and really getting criticized for this. what much of a chapter
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interviewing teachers and the impact this had on them? this gets to the heart of your question. believe me, i thought about doing that to avoid the inevitable criticism because if this had been a book about d.c. and the impact on pc, i honestly would've done that, but that's not what this book was. this book was again, was the right strategy chosen? should also school districts pursued this? essentially the national question. so i did not do that. and i thought if i was going to profile teachers, they should be teachers that were brought in, which made a difference, which is why we keep talking about the susa chapter. it was such a dramatic turnaround and was done by tron jourdan bringing effective teachers -- one was never around. he was always in the classroom, telling them how to teach. it's a funny and good in the
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book. i would arrive sometimes for interviews. i would be out cooling my heels of the outer office. duhon could really care less about me to put it this way. i was not a big priority in his life. his priority was out there in the classrooms. said i'd have to beg to defense and teachers. it was really very funny. at first i was kind of offended. but then i realize, you know commies got one thing on his mind. but anyway, i digress and that's why he didn't include the broader picture and i have this very narrow narratives if you will and i admit that. and i'll take my lumps on it. you've only got 270 pages, so how are you going to use them, you know? [inaudible] >> -- have to be invited to you
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but pretty. there are a couple of premises and here i don't necessarily agree with on no child left behind and its impact on high schools. they think it was meant to shake this is done. and i think michelle came and and it really did challenge and try to take them on in the district's high school. but i would like to know if during your tenure if there have been other school chancellors around the country that come to you he then quietly to ask how they can do what you're doing, even if there may be afraid to take it on so publicly as you did. >> you want me to try and repeat it? my question more to shout in my commentary was, did other school chancellors or superintendence or others in a position that you were in and trying to really shake up the district schools,
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did anyone come to you even quietly to sort of ask how you are doing that for what it was taking for you to have the ability to do what you are doing, even if they didn't want to publicly be known for that. >> a chancellors come to michelle and ask her what she was really doing and what was the method to her, not madness madness -- was that something that could emulate? >> i had mostly people who were just coming into their jobs, who are trying to get a lay of the land and trying to understand before they really got up and running, with the challenges were, why i made the decision that i made. was i happy with those are not? lots of folks who came to me to ask about school closures.
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when we closed the 23 schools in d.c., no other district has ever closed anything close to that in one shot. and after we visited a number of cities did occur. we definitely got a question about the school closures in particular. >> michelle, what did you think of the arbitrator's decision the day before yesterday? are there lessons to learn from it. and if it's fair to ask how you a question, why haven't you returned it? >> i am so glad because now that i'm not a nut job, i can really answer the way i believe. it's a crock. that decision was an absolute crock. if you look and say these people were not good. and if you look at what you're -- can i still say we?
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what we are required to do in order to remove a probationary teacher from their position, with the letter of the law states, we absolutely not. what he is saying we did not do which was an explanation of why to the teachers, that is nowhere in the requirement to what is necessary. so i have no idea what that man was thinking. in fact, we are actually advised by our council when you have termination, you actually don't going to want things with people about why and what not. he made the letter of the lot and that's exactly what happened. i think that decision was absolutely incorrect. i am confident that it is an appeal that will be turned over.
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[inaudible] >> i have 10, but i'll just ask one. i am curious, how do you react to this narrative of your tenure at what is the one thing you would've told differently if you are describing it in your own book? >> she's saying how did you react to the narrative of your tenure and what is the one thing you would add if you're writing the book yourself? [inaudible] [laughter] >> what did i think about the book?
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[inaudible] [laughter] >> a piece of the story -- >> what is one thing you would add? >> potentially and i think i got through a little of the sousa chapter. if i were going to add anything, or that the voice of kid. i get my energy from children. in fact, the difference between you and other adults as most adults on their own children, but for some reason you like all children. and i do. i like adults by less than i like kids. and so, the city is full of children who have so much potential, so much talent. i mean, they are just absolutely amazing kids. and they never cease to amaze me, whether it's kindergartners are mcammond away grew close with about two years i was there
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and i still get e-mails from other time. the children of the city are absolutely phenomenal. and the one thing -- the one thread i regret not seen in this is the voice of at least one student and what their experiences were over the three-year period and what they saw both undisclosed site and maybe also some the community side i think would have been a nice addition. >> can you talk about that at all? did you think about that or was it the 270 pages were big enough? >> to 270 pages are partly many long years at "usa today" where it get lectures from the editors on missing eyeballs. as you watch somebody read a newspaper and they skip to the next page, you foster eyeballs. you've got to the point in the story where they are just drawn. when i am reading, i understand
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what you're saying, but i was afraid of losing the eyeballs. >> let me give you an example. richard wrote about susana from the vantage point of building a strong team, which i actually agree is one of the key things that can make a turnaround either work or not. let me tell you from a different perspective. so in principle jourdan first came in, i started hearing from my staff that things are really turning around. i have been there a first year and it was an absolute disaster. it was literally one of the most dysfunctional schools we had church of the "washington post" calling it an academic sinkhole. as for looking up and looking better and i don't think in the first year i was able to visit the school. i thought after the first year
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their test scores, which are almost unbelievable. we like to see gains. sometimes when we see games can you kind of wonder whether they are real gains are not. and so i signed number of schools like that and i visited all the schools. i would say with some goals i thought really? this is a school. and every passerby what did to come the children were 100% engaged. they were all wearing uniforms. uniforms for type game. i mean, this was literally a schoolyard so we felt comfortable sending my children to. 100%. in that short of time. , which is a huge thing. i want to kind of understand what the lives of others were. they tell the teacher listening session at the next week may show up at 3:15 and get out the
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car and the kids are just getting out of school, so i'm walking into the school and all of a sudden the kissing me and they like chancellor rhee. usually they like who is the chinese lady walking around? bear hugging me, taking picture with me and i thought of as little strange. so i started talking to some of the kids. i talked to one young man is and what elementary school did you go to? i said, do you think that that school prepared you for the records here at sousa? she said it's really different. i said how so? she said well, the teachers your teach. i said okay, what does that mean? she said they really teach us to think outside the box. and this is a sixth grader who was famous. and so it is interesting to hear from the kids did. they were all telling me what
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they thought about both their elementary school experience, how it differed from their middle-school experience. they could articulate what the differences were and how they felt differently coming to school everyday. so when you hear from that is, it gives you a different appreciation. [inaudible] last night's >> next book i'm going to let michelle interview the kids. if i could jump in with a quick question here because it was alluded to the high school dilemma if you will. when michelle took over, there were 10 comprehensive high schools and they were all feeling the fee will by the end clb. then michelle realized she couldn't take them all in ones. but you took them on a few at a time and it was rough sledding. i focused on one, and dunbar, which did really well for one year and then we need to huge huge problems. you know, i came away from the whole thing, not that encourage
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to the possibility of turning around failing high schools. >> it is extraordinarily difficult. there are very, very few examples in this country what we were trying to do, which is taken up a large comprehensive high school as is, with the existing students in seeing a massive turnaround. i'm proud to say one of them was led by my fiancé, kevin johnson and sacramento. that effort though took five years. the first two years they didn't see huge academic gains. what they saw was a change in the culture and the expectation. and last week i took some of my staff because we are relocating to sacramento. it was fascinating because that school, which when they took it over with a failing school by any measure, about to be taken over. there's not a single security
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guard. no metal detectors. i mean, it is a completely different school now. but it's one of just a few that did manage to get there. now i think they are seven years into it and there's a learning lesson about what still needs to be done. >> as a reporter for education in that first year, it was very much a work in progress. there was huge change already, but it took a while. we have time for one more question. >> i have a question for both of you. i have a six-year-old who's in d.c. public schools. he has that stopped her. we love the school and most of the parents do, but the question is the aegis raised, which is what you do when they reach high school age? most of us who live in d.c. think we'd have to go to private
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school or move to the suburbs. i was raised in public schools, went to college in public schools. but then the reality of what do you do for your own kids? the question i have for you, michelle, as you mentioned five years for a turnaround. how much time do you think you needed here to really make a complete change? my son's elementary school is great. we love it. middle-school is it so much of a problem, but high school really is the barrier. what do you think if you could reject, what was your timeline for a real change to be affect it in the schools? >> from the other. to doesn't have a lot of time to wait for schools to get better because their children know they have one shot in education. michelle, what was your
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timeline? how long do you think it would've taken you to get the schools to the point where everyone in this room would feel comfortable sending their own children to? >> when the mayor and i started our effort to get there, he talked about the transformation of the school over two terms, in the air. not that in eight years everything would be perfect, but at the but at the end of eight years, without the entire city would be able to look back and say this is a wildly different back and say this is a wildly different than it was when is a wildly different than it was when they got started. and it's interesting because during my three and a half years here, i was often greeted with advice from people who say you need to slow down. you are trying to do too much too fast and understand change doesn't happen overnight. and i will tell you that none of
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the people who said that to me how children in the d.c. public schools. i had my children and the school district and i knew every single day that every decision i was making was going to impact them in one way or another. i simply wasn't willing to say to another family, just give me five more years and then the school that your kid is that will be better. and that is part of the reason why it's a little controversial. i cannot in favor of the opportunity scholarship programs and also to charter schools because i said i don't want any parent to have to wait until i fix that high school or that middle-school or elementary school. they should have the right to have their children to attend a high-quality school today. i hope that a lot of them stick with me. my effort has to be focused on changing them as quickly as
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humanly possible and hope that will be redoing was so high-quality that have brought people potentially back. i was not going to close the door of my people in the thief got to take one for the team and have your kids suffer through the next few years when we try to fix system. >> because i would like to add the q&a on a positive note, i think i will not respond to that question. but i have heard it described -- i knew going in nationally how difficult it is to turn around an urban high school. and you know, i thought i was watching one. you know, it didn't really make it that far in year two. and like i said, i will end on a positive note. and you know, there were some other people i try to identify who maybe have come in. i think shawn bridges here now. he is the one who rescued me
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when i showed up on their own day for the interview, also gave me batteries. each of the sandman ever make it? anyway, i appreciate everyone coming and we wanted something clean and from book signing opportunities. the books are being given away by the publisher and i will be there as long as my voice or by handholds out. thanks for coming. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> for more information, visit the book's website that be >> captain sullies on berger is the author of highest duty. what is that highest duty? >> it is to the best we can to take care of each other.
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my book is more than just the event of june or 15, 2009. it's even more than just my life. i had to have insightful survey of my life and all the important people who were with me that day and help you sympathize the lifetime of the experiences a problem i've never seen before along with my crew. i think finding one's passion early in life, being diligent in being willing to work hard and become experts lead to a purposeful life full of passion and i think that is what helped me more than anything else that dan river. >> what led you to writing the book? was at the landing and the hudson river? >> absolutely. i was certainly a big part of it. i think much of the book was already in me, my life story. but that was the impetus. it was a needed to be told that i could tell it to my eyes.
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>> well, half of the world has seen the video that landing and everyone exiting the plane at that point. what was your thought on impact. >> i would say a quick story about what happened immediately after the landing. jeffrey scott was my first officer that day and i had never landed before, so we didn't know quite what to expect. i do know how successful in making the touchdown general enough to keep the airplane in check here and i was competent at a code, but i do know how hard it would be because we had no threats to make a more gradual approach to the water. after we landed, we prefer it to the cockpit door and commanded the evacuation, my first officer and i turned to each other at the least amazing coincidence and at the same time in almost the same words said i wasn't as bad as i thought. so that was our first reaction. >> with two airlines look for an airline pilot that they seem to have this coolness?
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>> well, what we exhibited that day, will be forced on ourselves with a product is called the professionals learn. it's not really calm. it's having the discipline to compartmentalize and focus on the task at hand, even though your body's normal human reaction is to respond with a spike in blood pressure and pulse and a narrowing of your perceptual field because of the intense, sudden life-threatening stress. we did our jobs despite a bit. >> in your view is a retired u.s. their is the airline industry secure in the united states? >> you mean in terms of our security from scratch? >> in any way. >> or financially? >> more of a threat in air traffic, et cetera you. >> i think we are working hard to manage all those press, both
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in terms of the safety of the fist time in air traffic control and also in terms of our security. there is always more to be done and we're always trying to find new ways to learn from our experiences and do better in the future. that is part of what i'm trying to do now is keep on being an advocate for the highest professional standards in my profession and the highest level of safety for professors. >> how are you doing that? >> is speaking out. these are things i've carried about my whole life. first officer jeffrey scott is also doing a. and in terms of trying to do our best to fix the system, we are not done yet. >> chelsley sullenberger, "highest duty" is the name of his book. >> thank you very much. good to be here.


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